This month’s animation theme posed a slight dilemma—how do you find something related to animation to write about when you’re supposed to be focusing on audio mediums? But then the answer popped out of nowhere: those amazingly talented people known as voice actors.
Two of my favorite podcasts, Nerdist and Talkin’ Toons, have featured voice actors and animation, so I’ve picked three episodes from each show to highlight. Hearing the person responsible for bringing one of your favorite cartoon characters to life switch impeccably between different voices is something that never ceases to make me fangirl like crazy, and I’m excited to be able to share some of my favorite podcast interviews with voice actors with you!
With over 500 episodes, it can be intimidating to dive straight into the Nerdist podcast universe, but some of their best, funniest episodes have undoubtedly gone down with actors we never actually see onscreen.
Episode 299: Tom Kenny
Probably most known as the one who brings SpongeBob SquarePants to life, Tom Kenny is such a cool dude. In his episode, he discusses the pros and cons of being a voiceover celebrity as opposed to a regular, recognizable one, how he figures out what voices to use for his characters—it’s failed attempts at impressions, by the way—and delivers the 6:00 news as one of his other most popular characters, Ice King from Adventure Time.
Episode 226: Billy West and John DiMaggio
Although they each appear on their own episode, Billy West (Doug, Futurama, Ren & Stimpy)and John DiMaggio (Futurama, Adventure Time)appear together on this episode of the podcast, and it. is. incredible. It’s so cool to hear the two of them banter and improvise together throughout the episode, as well as get some behind-the-scenes glimpses into how they create voices.
Episode 187: Rob Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche
Remember how I said that the West/DiMaggio interview was incredible? Well, hold on, because Rob Paulsen (Pinky and the Brain, Animaniacs, Jimmy Neutron)and Maurice LaMarche (Pinky and the Brain, Futurama)have their own episode to rival the excellence that West and DiMaggio brought to the table. Hearing Pinky and the Brain swear is probably one of the best things ever, and it happens right here in this episode. Also, it’s worth a listen just to witness the greatness that is Paulsen singing the Countries of the World song from Animaniacs.
Rob Paulsen also has his own podcast devoted entirely to talking about the craft of voice acting with other voice actors. I don’t use the word “delightful” often, but honestly, I can’t think of any other way to describe it. The next three episodes are some of my favorites from his podcast, Talkin’ Toons.
Episode 33: Tara Strong
Tara Strong’s (My Little Pony, The Fairly Oddparents, Rugrats) episode bounces around all over. They discuss the best Jewish pseudonyms for themselves, how the majority of voice actors don’t realize right away that they want to do voice acting specifically, and the incident during the 2012 Oscars where Chris Rock ended up insulting voice actors everywhere, and Tara took to Twitter in order to stand up for them.
Episode 58: Nancy Cartwright
Nancy Cartwright (The Simpsons, Rugrats) is one of the few voice actors today who knew right away that she didn’t want to do anything but voice acting. She and Paulsen talk about her majoring in speech at Ohio University, having private lessons with the legendary Daws Butler all the way through college, the impact their voices have on people, and the impact hearing those peoples’ stories has on them, as well.
Episode 92: Dee Bradley Baker
Another important aspect of voice acting includes sound effects, and Dee Bradley Baker (Phineas and Ferb, Avatar, American Dad) is a total master. He plays one of my favorite animated characters, Perry the platypus, by just making noises that sound like they’d leave normal people with destroyed throats for weeks. Baker discusses his favorite audiences, using foreign languages to land roles, and “sticking to your creative guns and giving the best of what you’ve got.” Also, he played that giant Olmec head on Legends of the Hidden Temple. Does it get any better than that?
One of the things that struck me most was during Nancy Cartwright’s interview, where she and Rob reflected on the effect their voices had on people around the world and how constantly mind-blowing that is to them. We’ve grown up with all of these people; whether simply making us laugh or helping us through difficult times, they helped shape so many of us into who we are today, and most of the time, we don’t even know what they look like. No matter what, though, we’ll always know their voices, and that’s pretty rad.
Featured image via Nerdist. If you click the handy link, you’ll even find that super-fun Episode 187.
Allison Racicot is the Audiobook Reviewer at Girls in Capes. She’s a recent graduate of Emerson College in Boston, and has a degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing. She spends too much time listening to podcasts and getting overly attached to fictional characters.